Old and typical in its premise, Blue Noah (Thundersub in English) was amongst the first war drama/science fiction series to offer to the Western World an ongoing and rather rationalized scenario. There were almost no stand-alone episodes and you even got to sympathize with the bad guys of the story. Quite enough to give it some credit but nothing great considering what else came throughout the years.
I had watched it dubbed as a kid and had no idea it was Japanese or even a sort of tribute to Space Battleship Yamato of the 70’s. Not only it shares the same concept, it also goes for a basic character emersion, as well as weaponry apotheosis. And for the same reason it failed to be nothing but a minor tribute instead of a stand alone work with its own special place in anime history.
Although very old, there is a lot of detail given on machines and technology in general. Especially the battles which are made to be as spectacular as the era it was made could afford it. The screen is filled with lasers, explosions and dozens of airships moving at different directions at the same time. Adding the several special weaponry both sides possess made each confrontation to feel special. The human figures on the other hand are drawn simply and fade when compared to the submarines and the airships. It’s one of those shows were you appreciate the machine drawings more than the people controlling them.
The main music theme is very catchy and the rest have a sad tone to them. The show is mostly aiming to show the grim shape of the planet after its devastation as well as presenting the crew of the ship as heroic; and it does manage to make you consider them as saviors. The voice actors don’t seem to stand out in any particular way but several dialogues regarding survival and drama are very well thought-off.
Starts very commonly with an alien invasion routine but gets better along the way, thanks to the non-stop upgrades of the main sub’s capabilities. The beginning is kinda corny but is quite spectacular in terms of action and dramatization. An alien race attacks Earth and conquers it in a matter of hours. Most of humanity is killed, and the rest is enslaved. A group of university students escape the attack, bump on a secret ultra-powerful submarine that the remaining military plans to use against the aliens. They are accepted as a crew, since they lack a lot in manpower and begin a quest to unite the rest of humanity against the aliens.
Elements that prevent the show from becoming boring:
- The story is divided into story arcs, where the submarine attacks an alien base, frees the prisoners and stops their terraforming plans. None are completely stand-alone, as in each one extra crew and weapons are added to the sub.
-The aliens are not typical evil, egocentric monsters that want to rule the universe. They are the last survivors of a dying planet and simply want a new home. Earth has enough similarities and attack because they know that humans wouldn’t simply accept them. They do not plan to destroy Earth in the name of evil but colonize it in the name of survival. They also don’t just look but also have feelings like humans. This is one of the few rare cases when the aliens are excused to be fascists because of their harsh backdrop.
- The show takes into account the fact that the aliens cannot breathe oxygen and need to terraform the atmosphere to match their own. All the destruction we see is actually their attempts to change the climate and not to end life.
- Some attention is given to physics. The gravity of the aliens’ moon changes the axis of the Earth and the world climate in general, terraforming makes the sea and the air a lot heavier, and sea pressure is increased by depth and prevents sonar readings. Sounds a lot more realistic than watching moons and planets blowing up in Dragonball Z, without affecting the surroundings.
- As the story progresses, the submarine is elevated to the status of a spaceship and fights the alien moon directly in space. Ain’t that cool?
- There is a solid ending too, although it is rather simplistic.
The story still has its silly side that prevent it from being really good. And yes it is pretty much the same problem I had with Yamato. An entire advanced alien civilization seems unable to stop a single submarine. The good guys seem to always have endless fuel and ammunition, no matter how many times they fight. Plus, the aliens die by the thousands while the humans win without a single casualty.
The characters are very cliché by today’s standards. I doubt you will pay more attention to the human heroes than the alien bad guys, since their presence is a lot stronger. I doubt you will pay more attention to the aliens and not the weapons and the machines. They are still tragic in overall and do receive character colorization on a basic level. But by the end of the day the cast feels weak next to the war aspect.
The characters have little appeal but the credit the machinery gets is worth it. It has a vast variety of weaponry and technological ideas. Almost every episode features a new form of weapon or technological advancement that could make techno-freaks drool all over them. From typical weapons such as depth mines, torpedoes and triple barrel cannons, to original ones, such as DNA-triggered mines, spy rockets, heavy-water barriers, black hole missiles and solar ray beams, the series was a parade of originality and technological apotheosis. The main sub alone could by default separate into different subs and transform into an armed to the teeth aircraft carrier while on the surface! Plus, all were offered with an easy to understand explanation/rationalization, making even the unrealistic ones appear believable. If more attention was given on developing the characters further, then it would be a truly great series.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 2/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2
SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 3/4, Sound Effects 3/3
STORY SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 1/2, Conclusion 2/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 1/3, Memorability 2/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Analysis: Art 1/1, Sound 0/2, Story 0/3, Characters 2/4